Of all the numerous ‘what-ifs’ that seem to forever circulate around the boxing world, the tale of murderous punching super-featherweight and lightweight champ Edwin Valero, and what the Venezuelan might have achieved had he not reached his sordid end, must rank pretty high.
It was eight years ago next month (April 19, 2010) when the undefeated but incarcerated Valero took his own life by hanging, but as poor a role model as Valero may have been, he was some electrifying fighter.
Valero always was something of a short fuse, in and out (mainly out) of the ring; and there will likely be those fans who say they were not in the slightest bit shocked when Valero reached his end. But the lethal-hitting southpaw, who once beat up the likes of Antonio DeMarco, was looking ahead to big fights against the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley and maybe the two Peterson brothers. Could Valero have won such big fights, and by KO?
In short, how great, could “El Inca” have been? Could he in fact have achieved greatness?
No-one disputes the punching power of the man who romped to a straight 27 KO’s (an amazing 19 of them coming inside a round) and nobody denies the sheer excitement Valero generated in the ring. But it also must be said how the 5’6″ terror never faced an opponent who was close to being ranked as a great fighter. But what would have happened if Valero had lived to get that dream fight with then pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao? No doubt, if the raw punching Valero had somehow managed to win that one, his place in history would have been secured (and how differently would we all perhaps look at Pacquiao today – would Manny have been KO’d by Valero, and not by Juan Manuel Marquez?)
But was Valero ever going to be good enough to rumble with the likes of Pac-Man, Bradley and the other polished boxers who were at the time fighting at or around the 140-pound mark? At 5’6″ Valero, it could be argued, had the necessary height and reach to make it as a light-welter, and his withering, one-punch KO power would have always given him a chance against ANY fighter he met in the ring. On the minus side, though, was Valero’s crudeness and his less than granite chin.
Valero, if he had met a skilled boxer like a Tim Bradley, would likely have been made to miss by a mile or two with some, if not most of his punches. And when under return fire, Valero could be sent to the canvas (as Vicente Mosquera proved in his August 2006 fight with the man from Venezuela).
Would Valero have been able to take Pacquiao’s best and keep coming? Of course we’ll never know, but chances are, tantalizingly so, that Valero Vs. Pacquiao would have seen a wildly entertaining few rounds – at least until Valero took the inevitable punch too many and got stopped. Who knows, Pacquiao-Valero might even have even topped the still celebrated Hagler-Hearns war for greatest short fight.
Looking at Valero’s ring achievements, with two titles at different weights won, the modern day caveman slugger must certainly be remembered as a very good, not to mention hugely exciting, world class fighter. Had he lived, he may have got that fight he wanted with Pacquiao, but it’s not totally crazy to say that wild man Valero’s fighting style might have given Pac Man trouble and even beaten him. One thing we can all agree on is how exciting it would have been if we’d been allowed to find out who would have come out on top between the two fast and heavy-handed southpaws.
Valero was far from a good guy, but he sure was a good fighter. Maybe he would have become a great.